Following the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund being permanently extended by the federal government this summer, hundreds of Lower Manhattan community members attended a Sept. 16 informational seminar to learn about access to 9/11-related healthcare. Speakers at the event included officials and advocates, including Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and comedian Jon Stewart.
The event was held at Borough of Manhattan Community College, at 199 Chambers St., just blocks away from the World Trade Center.
The law firm Barasch & McGarry, which represents more than 15,000 people in the 9/11 community, handed out informational packets on how individuals — including residents, students and anyone who was exposed to W.T.C. toxins — can access full healthcare benefits for illnesses.
John Feal, a first responder and advocate, emceed the seminar.
"Excellent dad, the best. They don't come any better than him," says Kalina Shouse when asked about her husband Erik.
The couple have two beautiful, intelligent, active little girls but Kalina Shouse no longer has the man who helped make them; Erik Shouse died last year at just 40, suddenly and unexpectedly.
An autopsy revealed the otherwise healthy firefighter had heart disease.
The state of Washington recognizes a number of conditions -- cancers mostly -- as presumptive, meaning a direct result of firefighting. Heart attack is one of them, but only if it occurs within 24 hours of strenuous activity related to the job or within 72 hours of smoke exposure.
Neither applied to Erik Shouse but in a pivotal decision by Labor and Industries, his heart disease -- and consequently his death -- was ruled presumptive or, in other words, caused by his job.
And that designation entitles Kalina and her children to survivor's benefits.
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Since East St. Louis was freed of oversight from the Illinois Financial Authority in 2013, the city has fallen nearly $2.3 million short in mandated payments to the fund that supports firefighters and their families in retirement, according to an audit.
The East St. Louis Fire Pension Board on Monday voted unanimously to recover those contributions from the city through an “intercept procedure,” in which it would petition Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza’s office to seize state payments to the city and deposit them directly to the pension funds.
As a result, East St. Louis could see agencies like the police and fire departments without money for daily operation.
According to the 2018 audit by Alton accountant C. J. Schlosser, the city owed $3,358,997 to the fire pension fund, but paid just $2,029,232. The funding shortfall in 2017 was nearly $900,000, the audit states.
Responding to a medical call in a rural area outside of town, emergency responders pause for a moment to figure out how they can access a property. By the way, it’s the middle of a moonless night.
“We used to do that with our old manual map books and open it up,” Capt. Rich Saalsaa, Philomath Fire & Rescue’s fire and life safety officer remembered. “But at 4 o’clock in the morning and if it’s pitch dark and you’re trying to read this map, it just doesn’t go well.”
These days, modern-day technology has closed the book on those old methods and emergency responders can find their way through the help of a computerized database. Philomath Fire & Rescue’s recent equipment upgrades allows the district to input helpful information that comes in handy on a call.
During a late night of emergency calls last year, Dallas firefighter and paramedic Paul Clarke decided he was sick of drinking bad coffee to keep him alert during shifts. He wanted to create a better brew for himself and his fellow first responders. But before he could, Clarke—an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps Forces Reserve—was deployed to Iraq for nine months.
But he didn’t abandon the idea. In his free time he developed a concept for a coffee operation that would give back to the men and women on the frontlines back home. “We started pricing out the roasting equipment and working on the brand, the logo, and the art on the packages,” Clarke says. “When I got back, I pulled the trigger on everything.”
With the help of two Air Force captains, a fellow Marine captain, his best friend, and his dad, Clarke launched Fire Grounds Coffee Company at the beginning of this year.